Tough Guy Meng Han is Released from Prison
On September 3, after 21 months of imprisonment, labour activist Meng Han is set free again.
Since Xi Jinping came to power, Chinese civil society and activists are experiencing a very difficult period. Earlier this year, the treatment and death of Liu Xiaobo shocked the world. But almost at the same time, rights defending lawyer, Jiang Tianyong, who has been beaten on a number of occasions was forced to plead guilty and sentenced. Thus, it is not surprising that even the toughest guys fell one after another to the terrors of torture and threats to their love ones. A year ago in Guangdong, there was another tough guy who was forced to plead guilty to a crime he never committed, he name is Meng Han.
In 2013, Meng participated in a collective labour action with other security guards in the No.1 Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and was elected as the “chief representative” in the negotiation with the management. However, he was then dismissed and along with 17 other workers, he was sentenced to nine-month imprisonment on charges of “Inciting a crowd to disrupt public order”. At his defence speech in court, he insisted, “As a worker in contemporary China, I would prefer to spend the rest of my life in prison if the rights to decent work is deprived,” and after his release, he proclaimed, “the government must stop its abuse of power to suppress labour rights defending, and we must sacrifice for the cause of rights defending. I am prepared for this sacrifice.”
Upon his release, Meng Han joined the Panyu Migrant Workers Services Centre to continue his fight for labour rights and successfully helped more than 3,000 workers in defending their rights in the Guangzhou Lide Shoe Factory Strike. However, what lay ahead of him was another arrest and prosecution. On December 3, 2017, he was one of the 27 labour activists in Guangzhou being arrested and detained. And among the four who were later sentenced, Meng Han was the last one to be trailed because he was the most "troubled" one. After his arrest, Meng said, "As my case is not going to be resolved in the near future, I have no intention to compromise with them (the officials) on my conscience and morality." "In this case, I have a clear conscience." In fact, Meng Han’s determination remained resolute until his parents were intimidated, his companions were under surveillance and loved one was harassed. Meng was forced to compromise and pleaded guilty and was finally sentenced to 21 months in prison. But this would not tarnish our respect for him, nor would it tarnish his image as a labour rights defender.